While harvest is in full swing and attention is focused most intensely on the yield monitor, soil considerations are important even if they are just below the horizon. Avoiding or reducing soil compaction is important with all of the potential traffic across your fields during harvest operations. Keep in mind that a full combine or grain cart can have an axle load near 40 tons and can create soil compaction 30-36 inches into the profile.
The best management practice to reduce compaction is to use the same wheel tracks when making additional passes across a field. Under the best conditions, more than 80 percent of compaction damage is done on the first pass across the field so limit that damage to the fewest number of wheel tracks when possible. Avoid angular traffic or “shortest path” traffic, as well. While it might save you a few moments of time, the potential damage to your soil and future yields can have an even greater value.